LEVELLAND – South Plains College and the City of Levelland will be hosting the 2015 NJCAA Half Marathon Championships on Saturday, November 21 beginning at 9 a.m.
Nearly 100 athletes from across the country will be competing in the 13.1-mile race, which will run through the city streets and neighborhoods of Levelland, beginning and ending at the Mallet Event Center and Arena of Hockley County, located at 2320 South State Hwy 385 in Levelland. The women will start at 9 a.m., with the men beginning at 9:15 a.m.
South Plains' sophomores Hassan Abdi and Kelvin Keter are two favorites coming into Saturday's race, each finishing in the top 10 this past weekend in Iowa at the NJCAA National Cross Country Championships.
The SPC men's team will be looking to defend their half-marathon title on Saturday after being crowned champions in 2014.
Antibahs Kibiwott finished first overall in the men's division with a time of 1:09:02 for the Texans, while Colton Hollis, Jose Martinez and Hassan Abdi placed seventh, eighth and ninth for the Texans, respectively.
Although a competitive field once again in 2015, coach Beene knows what it would mean to capture another national title yet again.
"Anytime, we can win Nationals I think it is a great thing for the school and our student-athletes," Beene said. "I'm excited to see what we can do. Maybe we can get that done."
South Plains College hosted the Half Marathon Championships in 2012, where Darroneshia Lott led the Lady Texans to a second place team finish after placing first overall in the women's division with a final time of 1:24:16.80.
SPC head coach Chris Beene will be chasing his 31st national title on Saturday, and looks forward to seeing his team compete against the best competition the country has to offer.
"I think anytime you can bring championships to SPC, it is great for the athletes and the school," Beene said. "It brings business and money to the businesses that support our teams, it means our teams don't have to travel, and it also means that our hometown fans can come and see us in a major event. I think our men have a good shot to defend last year's half marathon championship.
"We are a pretty good team on the men's side. Hassan Abdi and Kelvin Keter should be our top two guys. We also have Nicholas Rotich, Connor Hughes and Jose Silva representing the Texans. Our Women were second last year. We have more of a middle distance team, so I'm not sure how good we will be at the half marathon distance. But, like everything we do, I want us to compete!"